The world came together Feb. 21 to celebrate the life of the late Rev. Billy Graham, a man who, in all aspects of his life, embodied Christ’s mission to reach society’s lost individuals.
Graham was formally converted in 1934 when a revivalist in his community preached powerful sermons and convicted Graham to commit his life to Christ. From that point on, his entire mindset and all his actions shifted to reflect the life of a man fully committed to carrying out God’s work on earth.
Jesus’ life was devoted to God’s mission and to His people, and He calls us to do the same. Graham took hold of that responsibility and made it the driving force behind his ministry.
“We believe that the ministry of evangelism (sharing and proclaiming the message of salvation only possible by grace through faith in Jesus Christ) and discipleship (helping followers of Christ grow up into maturity in Christ) is a responsibility of all followers of Jesus Christ,” the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website said.
The truly remarkable and inspiring thing about the life Graham lived was not the presidents or world leaders he interacted with or the hundreds of millions of people he preached the Gospel to during his lifetime. Instead, his unwavering commitment to glorify God, rather than himself, defined his life of ministry.
Graham’s rise to fame was massive and far-reaching. He became a common household name, yet he consistently gave all the credit to God.
Graham emphasized the importance of reaching the lost and hurting of the world by preaching a lesson of repentance enveloped in love. Christianity Today published a compilation of articles about Graham’s life, including a piece from Andrew S. Finstuen. According to Finstuen, co-author of “Billy Graham: American Pilgrim,” Graham saw a hurting, lonely society and adjusted his messages to better welcome those individuals, without disregarding the foundational truth of the message.
“With an audience numbering in the millions, Graham understood that his words had the potential to alienate as much as invite untold numbers around the globe,” Finstuen said. “Accordingly, while the theme of repentance was as strong as ever, he curbed excessive references to the flames of hell.”
This incredible attentiveness to the needs of God’s people should be an example to all of us as Christians. If we don’t take the initiative to notice and advocate for the lost and rejected in society, then who will?
In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul said, “To the weak, I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all means I may save some. I do all these things because of the Gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.”
It doesn’t really matter whether or not you agree with Graham’s ministry or teaching methods. What matters is he saw a broken society and chose to do something about it. He was convicted to act and he didn’t ignore that calling.
He went to the powerful, but he also went to the weak. He was always all things to all people. Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing?
If we as Christians are going to make a significant impact on this world, we cannot ignore society’s issues because they make us uncomfortable or unsure. Instead, we need to get involved and make an impact.
We don’t get to compartmentalize aspects of our lives, because our personal Christian walk and our calling to minister to the lost are not mutually exclusive. If we claim to be living for Christ, we should recognize it is an all-in commitment.
It is important to follow Graham’s example and utilize the opportunities we have every moment of every day to let God speak through our words and actions no matter how small or insignificant they seem at the moment.
Graham’s life on earth may have come to an end, but his influence will live on through the lives he touched by fully living out Christ’s mission.